South Africa this week embarked on the first phase of its efforts to reopen its tourism economy, with initial domestic activity set to be followed by a regional and international resumption.
The country’s five-tier Covid alert system was lowered from level four to three on Monday (1 June), the level at which the South African government previously committed to easing measures to allow tourism to resume.
When the country’s alert system was devised in April, it was envisaged tourism activities would be able to resume at levels two and one.
However, South African Tourism (SAT) said efforts to "de-risk" the sector in recent weeks through new health and operational protocols had led to a new government and private sector commitment to work towards a phased reopening of the sector at level three, whereby certain domestic tourism activities are permitted, as well as some limited domestic air travel.
"It is expected that in South Africa, domestic tourism and business travel will lead the recovery followed by regional and international (long-haul) travel," said SAT.
The tourism authority also said it was assessing entering the regional phase of tourism resumption through bilateral air bridges and travel bubbles with regional neighbours.
SAT added it wanted to thank trade partners for their support. "Every day, we are taking a step closer towards seeing more travel restrictions being lifted and borders opening up again. We are looking forward to once again welcoming tourists from all over the world and sharing our beautiful country."